News & Politics

Homicide Watch D.C.’s Laura Amico on the Site’s End

“It’s an indictment of local media in DC.”

Photograph of Amico by Douglas Sonders.

Laura Amico arrived in DC five years ago and saw two cities: one where more than 100 people were murdered every year, most without a shred of news coverage, and another where homicide was rare but reported on as if life actually mattered.

“I found it so hard to believe,” she says. “I decided to investigate.”

Her investigation resulted in Homicide Watch D.C., a website founded with her husband, Chris, that charts the grim details behind the District’s homicide statistics—the parents executed as their infants slept nearby, the 26-year-old woman found shot at a fire scene. Its motto: “Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case.”

In four years, Homicide Watch covered 435 cases, posting photos, maps, and court documents. Friends and family mourned the deceased and defendants alike in the comments section.

Two years ago, Amico won a fellowship at Harvard and she and Chris moved to Boston, running the site—which averages a half million page views a month—with the help of interns. But when she landed a job at the Boston Globe, the couple began talking to DC outlets about taking it over. “It’s a local news site,” she says. “It shouldn’t be run from Boston.”

The Amicos estimate the annual cost of operating the site at $60,000. So far, no takers. “It’s an indictment of local media in DC,” Amico says. “It sends the message that the cases don’t matter. It’s a shame that didn’t make a difference.”

But for many faceless victims and their families, it already has.

This article appears in the December 2014 issue of Washingtonian.